Saracens are fully aware of the massive challenge that awaits them in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals against fellow two-time winners Munster Rugby at the Ricoh Stadium on April 20 (15:00 BST).
They have met the Irish province twice at this stage in previous seasons and it is one win apiece so far, with Munster having triumphed 18-16 at the Coventry ground in 2008 before the English club evened things up at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium in 2017 with a 26-10 win.
That Saracens victory reduced Munster’s head-to-head advantage to 5-3, although Sarries have won three of their last four meetings.
Saracens’ England No.8, Billy Vunipola, told the club’s Twitter feed: “They’re a tough, tough team. Anyone who wants to play against them has to win the arm-wrestle first. They’re very organised.
“We played them two years ago in Dublin and they were awesome, so we’ve got to bring our A game.”
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) April 1, 2019
Vunipola’s thoughts were echoed by Alex Goode on BT Sport, after he had played a key role at fly-half in the 56-27 quarter-final victory over Glasgow Warriors in Saturday’s quarter-final at Allianz Park.
Goode said: “We have played them before in the semi-finals and know what a great side they are, with a lot of passion, support and physicality. They played very well to come through [at Edinburgh].
“We will prepare for that in a couple of weeks, but for now we’re going back to the Premiership and we’ll appreciate what a great victory this was. We put in a great performance against a top side in the quarter-finals of the European Cup.”
It was the second time this season at Allianz Park that Goode, normally a full-back, had deputised for Owen Farrell at fly-half against Glasgow.
He added: “I’m very lucky. We have a great team and we didn’t show any nerves. The front-foot ball from the pack was amazing.”
The only negative for Saracens was the sight of captain and centre Brad Barritt limping off just before the end, which Vunipola admitted put “a little bit of a dampener” on the victory.
On we march ⚫️🔴 pic.twitter.com/w3qOwAy9uF
— Brad Barritt (@bradbarritt) March 31, 2019
For Glasgow, though, head coach Dave Rennie highlighted a number of errors which allowed the English Premiership side to get on top.
He told the Warriors’ website: “We started reasonably well, but I thought we kicked poorly and didn’t really got our game going.
“We got dominated field-position wise and we were just too soft defensively. You can’t give a good side like Saracens opportunities and we gave them plenty.
“We’re a lot better side than we showed and it’s disappointing. When you get to the big occasions, you need to front [up] and we need to perform better than we did.”